Last month, we brought you a napping “cheat sheet” — 5 things you need to know about your baby’s or toddler’s naps. Since many of you found that nap list so helpful, we’re bringing you a new one this month — 5 more things you need to know about baby and toddler naps (it’s amazing how much there is to share about baby sleep! ).
Let’s dive in!
5 More Things You Need To Know About Baby and Toddler Naps
- On-the-go, “moving” naps aren’t as restorative as naps that happen at home, in bed. This might come as a bit of a surprise, but it’s true — naps that happen “on the go” (in a moving car, for example, or in a moving stroller or shopping cart) aren’t as restorative as naps that happen on a non-moving surface (like a bed). They aren’t as long, for one thing, and during a “moving” nap, your baby’s or toddler’s sleep won’t be as deep. The occasional on-the-go nap isn’t a big deal, of course; sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do. But if the majority of your baby’s or toddler’s naps are happening in the car, or in a stroller, you may need to rethink your daytime routines and schedule.
- It’s possible for your baby or toddler to nap too much. Yes, we realize that this particular “problem” doesn’t plague most of you. But it’s true; some babies and toddlers nap too much, and it negatively affects their nighttime sleep. How much nap time sleep is too much? You can check out this article for details, but here’s a fast breakdown:
*INFANT STAGE (birth – 4 months) — newborns will sleep 14-18 total hours during the day. To maximize nighttime sleep, limit naps to two hours, and try to keep your baby awake for 30 minutes between naps.
*BABY STAGE (4-12 months) – babies need 13-15 total hours of sleep during the day. 2-4 of these hours should be naps (depending on how much sleep your baby is getting at night.)
*TODDLER STAGE (12 months – 3 or 4 years) – 1-3 hours of total naptime is considered normal and healthy.
- Educate yourself on when common nap transitions occur, and how to manage them. Nap transitions are likely to occur at the following times:
*3-4 MONTHS – baby transitions from 5 naps to 4.
*5-6 MONTHS – baby transitions from 4 naps to 3.
*8-9 MONTHS – baby transitions from 3 naps to 2.
*15-18 MONTHS – toddler transitions from 2 naps to 1.
As for how to handle these nap transitions? Be sure to read through this article from some hands-on, practical tips on how to manage them well.
- If a nap just isn’t happening, know when to give up and try again later. We end up dispensing this advice quite often to our consultation clients who we are working on nap training: don’t waste too much time trying to make a nap happen. After about an hour, it’s okay to give up and wait for the next nap window to come along before trying again. No sense in spending 3 hours trying to force an afternoon nap to happen — at that point, you’re probably closer to bedtime than you are to naptime!
- When your toddler is finally done taking naps, consider replacing nap time with “rest time”. It’s always a little sad when your toddler finally ages out of his naps. Gone are those one or two hours of peace, when mom or dad could get some work done, catch up on chores, or take a nap themselves! However, the end of nap time doesn’t have to mean the end of your afternoon peace and quiet. Simply replace nap time with rest time. I’ve done this with my boys (and Nicole did it with hers), and let me tell you — it’s a beautiful thing.
What does rest time look like? That will vary from family to family, of course, but here’s how rest time goes in my house: after lunch, my boys retire to separate rooms, where they’re allowed to read books, do puzzles, and play quietly with toys. It usually lasts about an hour (although on days when I feel like I’ve used up all my patience and sweetness by noon, it lasts a bit longer! ) My boys are past the toddler years now; one’s a preschooler, and one’s in kindergarten. But this is the nice thing about rest time — it can extend well into the elementary school years. Win!
This time of solitude is good for your child; it gives her time to unwind. It also gives her a chance to learn how to occupy and entertain herself, which (in my opinion, at least) is a great skill for a child to have. And, of course, it gives you a much-needed break in the middle of the day.
As always, if you need help working through your baby’s or toddler’s napping problems, we’re here for you! We offer an e-book devoted entirely to helping parents overcome their babies’ or toddlers’ napping issues; take a look!
Are you working through any of these nap situations? Any tips or advice to offer other parents who are struggling with naps? Chime in and let us know by commenting below!
Ready to get your baby or toddler napping like a champ? First, make sure you are not making those pesky 7 Common Napping Mistakes and/or check out Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-to” of good baby sleep. With over 40 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (for babies) or The 5 Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (for toddlers). Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night. Or, join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations. Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a sleep plan; sometimes you’re just close to the situation or too tired to!